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  Makalu 2005 Expedition: The death of Sumba Sherpa


Update 5/16/2005: The Spanish Makalu West pillar expedition: May 16, 2005 A guide of the 'Al filo de lo imposible' expedition dies.

One of the guides (Sherpa) who was with the expedition of the TVE's show 'Al filo de lo imposible' which is climbing Makalu, died yesterday.  The Director of 'Al filo de lo imposible', Sebastián Álvaro, and Chief of the Expedition of the Military Group of High Mountain, commander Alberto Ayora, tell how it happened in the following note.

Yesterday, May 15, when the entire expedition was in Makalu's base camp, located at some 5,400 meters, waiting for the weather to improve to start the final summit attempt, one of the Sherpas in charge of the kitchen, Sumbu Sherpa, fell sick.  Immediately all the members of the expedition started to work to stop the sickness, with medical commander Santiago Villanueva leading.  Santiago Villanueva has participated in several of our expeditions in such complicated places like the North Pole, Mount Pobeda, Cho Oyu and Dhaulagiri, and has wide experience as intensive care doctor.  The first symptoms we could see were those of pulmonary edema, although a heart attack could not be discarded.  It was surprising how fast it ended, because this Sherpa had a great experience in numerous expeditions, because he had been more than a month in base camp, without any previous symptoms, and because his work was to supply water for the base camp from a little creek nearby.  Since nine twenty five until eleven forty five in the evening, our entire group fought to save this man, using all the resources at our reach.  Medicinal oxygen, hyperbaric chamber and medicines like Desametasona and Nifedipine were used.  Despite all our efforts, around ten fifteen he went into cardiac and respiratory arrest.  During almost one hour and a half our teammates took turns to give cardiac massage and artificial ventilation, administering intravenous adrenaline.  At a quarter to twelve we gave up and we could only accept the inevitable death of Sumbu Sherpa.  At 5,400 meters of altitude, in one of the most desolate places of the planet, there was nothing else we could possible do. 

Today, 16, at eleven in the morning, our group started the evacuation of Sumbu Sherpa to Katmandu, where we hope that, if the weather permits, a helicopter would take him in the first hours of the morning of May 17.  

Once this job is done, which is a priority for us, our group will meet tomorrow to decide the next steps of the expedition.

Sebastián Álvaro Lomba, Director of 'Al filo de lo Imposible' 

Alberto Ayora Hirsch, Commander, Chief of the Expedition of the Military Group of High Mountain

Translated from Spanish by Jorge Rivera

Expeditions on Makalu Spring 2005

1 Makalu West Pillar Spanish Expedition 2005 Spain 9 Makalu 8463 Mr Alberto Ayora Hirsch
2 Makalu Expedition Spain 5 Makalu 8463 Mr Angle Villan Polo
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